Archive for the ‘Human Resources Management’ Category

Telecommuting Should Be Carefully Planned

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Telecommuting, often referred to as “working from home,” is not for everyone or for every company.  There are pros and cons for both the company and for the employee that must be considered in order to be successful.

Employees interested in telecommuting imagine a definite benefit to having the ability to literally “come to work” each day in their pajamas.  However, many telecommuters fail to notice they can often work an average of 10-12 hours each day should they also work during their normal commute time.  Management sees an opportunity for increased productivity when telecommuting is offered to the workforce, yet may sacrifice some creative thinking as a result of less collaboration among team members.

Before instituting a policy on telecommuting, careful thought is required.  Although research has shown telecommuting provides for lower job-related stress, improved performance and greater job satisfaction, these positives do not happen for everyone.

Some workers who telecommute actually miss the face-to-face interaction with their co-workers and their management. Other trade-offs which can occur with telecommuting include increased productivity vs longer work days, greater independence vs less collaboration, and more flexibility with family and work vs blurred boundaries of the two.

As a company, some other factors to consider include:

  • Are employees allowed to decide if they telecommute?
  • How much are employees allowed to control their schedules?
  • Is an employee’s work interdependent on the work of others?
  • What are the current relationships with co-workers and supervisors?

Still, after some careful consideration and planning, a successful telecommuting implementation can be a powerful recruiting and retention tool.  Telecommuting opportunities can also open the door for a diverse and truly global workforce by taking advantage of available collaboration technology.

If your company decides to incorporate telecommuting, as an HR manager you’ll want to stay in the know. Ask managers who have telecommuters these types of questions –  How do your telecommuters separate their home life from work life? Do they have established “office” hours? Do they have a work environment conducive for a dedicated workspace? How do you keep the lines of communication open? Understanding the answers to these types of questions will help HR with the broader view of how telecommuting impacts your particular organization. Learn more about how CAI helps 1,100+ North Carolina member companies with HR, Compliance & People Development Solutions.  

 
CAI’s Advice & Resolution Advisor Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

4 ‘Must-have’ Leadership Behaviors

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

There are four behaviors that every effective leader must possess:

1. Effective problem solving

The process that precedes decision making is problem-solving when information is gathered, analyzed, and considered. This is deceptively difficult to get right, yet it is a key input into decision making for major issues as well as daily ones. 

Effective problem solving is a rare commodity. This is because most individuals do a poor job at root cause analysis. Their natural inclination is to bypass the analysis and jump right into the ‘solve.’ The end result is often a quick fix, Band-Aid approach that addresses the symptom and not the actual problem.

 

HR leaders can help by coaching business partners to avoid the immediate ‘jump to solve.’

2. Operating with a strong results orientation

Leadership is about not only developing and communicating a vision and setting objectives but also following through to achieve results. Leaders with a strong results orientation tend to emphasize the importance of efficiency and productivity and to prioritize the highest-value work.

Results orientation begins with clearly articulated expectations relative to key performance indicators. HR leaders should work with their operations partners to ensure that managers are having weekly discussions with their staffs regarding, actual vs. expected results.

3. Seeking different perspectives

This trait is exhibited by managers who monitor trends affecting the organization, grasp changes in the environment, encourage employees to contribute ideas that could improve performance, accurately differentiate between important and unimportant issues, and give the appropriate weight to stakeholder concerns. Leaders who do this well typically base their decisions on sound analysis and avoid the many biases to which decisions are prone.

On the other hand, leaders who suffer from the ‘smartest person in the room syndrome’ consistently think they have all the right answers. They tend to alienate others and consequently miss out on other, better alternatives.This is typically a self-awareness issue that can be mitigated through effective coaching.

4. Supporting others

Leaders who are supportive understand and sense how other people feel. By showing authenticity and a sincere interest in those around them, they build trust and inspire and help colleagues to overcome challenges. They intervene in group work to promote organizational efficiency and help to prevent non-productive internal conflict.

As a result, these supportive leaders tend to have a much greater enterprise value.  By that, we mean that they are actually synergistic in their value. They help to ‘lubricate’ the organization and reduce unnecessary problems and issues.

CAI has multiple ways to build leaders within your organization. We offer a wide variety of instructor-led courses in our Management Advantage program to train your leaders, managers, and supervisors. And, CAI members have access to leadership tools and templates along with the opportunity to receive guidance and coaching from our local, experienced HR experts. Learn more about how CAI can help with leadership training and workforce planning.

Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad-based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations. 

 

Why Human Capital Isn’t Enough

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

It’s pretty common today to hear leaders and organizations talk about “human capital.”

I can still remember when that term started frequenting our vocabulary a few years ago. As an HR leader, it felt like we’d stumbled onto something that might finally help us earn our legitimate seat at the executive table.

After all, most executives worship capital. Possessing financial capital usually means we are flourishing and able to seize opportunities. Capital is power.

So, finding a way to talk about employees and talent as a form of capital was brilliant. Even the CFO seemed to be on board with acknowledging that there was a real value in the collective knowledge, skills, and abilities of our employees. And, like any asset, if you make continued investment in it over time, the value steadily increases.

As a result of human capital being more widely used and understood, our talent management practices became intensely focused on developing employees’ individual competencies. The more each individual acquired skills and abilities, the more our human capital grew.

This model was highly effective when executed well. Jack Welch became a legend in part because of the training and development efforts he funded at GE. Human capital was seen as a competitive advantage by many.

But, then the game changed. The internet and social technology emerged to connect the world together in a way that had been unthinkable in the past. The days of doing work independently faded rapidly, and it became imperative to work together in collaboration.

Evidence of this shift can be seen everywhere. An online encyclopedia populated exclusively with user-contributed content nearly put traditional encyclopedias out of business. And, the most powerful operating system in the world was created by a community or programmers with no formal organization to manage their work.

The very nature of how we work and create value shifted.

The human capital model of human resources is incomplete, because it doesn’t account for the importance and value that exists through relationships. In today’s world, work is done together. And because of this, a new and highly valuable kind of capital has emerged: social capital

In order to compete effectively today and in the future, human resources professionals must not only work to build human capital, but also social capital. This will requires taking on new roles and skill sets for our organizations.

If you are are an HR professional or manage HR for your company, please join me on March 9 at the HR Management Conference to explore how HR must embrace our new role as Social Architect.

 

This is a guest post from Jason Lauritsen who will be speaking at CAI’s upcoming HR Management Conference on March 8 & 9th in Raleigh. Jason has been described as “a corporate executive gone rogue.” For nearly a decade, he spent his days as a corporate HR leader where he developed a reputation for driving results through talent. As Director of Client Success for Quantum Workplace, he leads a team dedicated to helping organizations make work better for employees every day.

5 Tips For Implementing A Group Benefits Plan

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

The post below is a guest blog from Jordan Whichard, IV, GBA who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

If you operate a startup company, or your established business has recently grown larger than 50 employees, one of the most daunting items on your 2017 to-do list may be implementing a group benefits plan for the first time.  Starting a benefits plan from scratch can be an intimidating – not to mention time-consuming – process, especially without a partner to help you understand the background and minutiae of it all. Here are some tips if you find yourself staring down a brand new group benefit plan in 2017:

  1. Know your timeline and stick to it

Whether you want your benefits plan to begin in June or January, you’ll want to begin the process at least six months in advance of your anticipated start date. That will give you ample time to evaluate different benefit options, plan designs, funding platforms, and other factors that you will need to consider. Medical carriers will generally be able to offer early numbers about three months prior to your effective date.  You’ll want to approach the carriers as close as possible to that date in order to start understanding your potential rates.

  1. Firm up your census

Changes in your workforce are bound to happen, especially if you operate a rapidly growing business.  But beware, medical carriers reserve the right to re-rate your population if your census changes by more than 10% between the date of the quote and the date of final implementation.  If possible, holding your workforce numbers relatively stable for several months before your first open enrollment will help alleviate any stress that a re-rate would generate.

  1. Know your population

All workforces are different, but knowing your employees wants and needs can be a big help when designing your first benefit plan.  A brief employee survey could be a valuable tool in determining what benefits your employees are most interested in.  By the same token, many benefit plans have participation requirements – a percentage required to guarantee rates in the first year.  If you have less than that, the benefits may be more expensive than originally thought.

  1. Beware individual underwriting

Depending on the size of your group, some medical carriers may require individual employees to go through an underwriting process to help the carriers determine the risk associated with your group. If you have a stable workforce and know everyone wants coverage, that may not be a problem; but groups with a geographically or economically diverse workforce will want to think twice before committing to the individual underwriting process. Either way, you should understand that the first numbers a carrier presents may not necessarily be their final proposal!

  1. Tie it all together

Once you have all of your plans in place, you’ll want to make sure that the benefits are working effectively for you and your employees.  Ensure that the appropriate plans are written under Section 125 of the IRS code so that employees are able to pay their premiums before any taxes are deducted from their paychecks.

If these tips sound like things that you’d like explained or explored further, contact a consultant at HCW today.  Implementing the plan is just the beginning – next comes developing your long-term strategy, ensuring regulatory compliance, and managing your costs. We’re ready to help guide you through the process from start to finish.

Don’t Overlook the True Value of Your Employee Handbook

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Employee handbooks are a vital part of outlining and communicating your company policies while creating a “picture” of your company culture and mission.  All companies–regardless of their size, industry, or number of employees should have an employee handbook in place, be it hard copy, e-version, or on-line. A company handbook can be as robust and detailed or as simple and short as needed depending on your business and culture. Let’s review several of the major purposes and benefits of having a company handbook.

Legal Protection: A handbook should outline the company’s position on important legal or regulatory issues such as At-Will Employment, anti-harassment or discrimination policies, wage and hour compliance or drug testing policies. Should one of these situations become a workplace issue, an employer can support their actions based on what is outlined in their handbook. Handbooks are a great tool in helping set employee expectations.

Company Culture/Mission: A handbook provides employees with an understanding of the company’s mission and culture. By placing an emphasis on aspects of employment that the company values (volunteerism or code of conduct) the employees will have a better idea of the culture that is desired and supported by senior management. Understanding the company’s culture will allow employees to have clear and consistent expectations of conduct and performance.  The handbook is also a great place for the CEO to “tell the story” of the company to help employees understand why the company exists.

Guide for Employees: An employee handbook should be written with the employee in mind. The handbook should outline policies, practices and other key information that is pertinent to the employee.  Providing relevant and pertinent information to employees allows employees to understand and manage that what is important to them (such as benefits, pay cycle information, vacation schedules, etc.) as well as develop an understanding of the expectations and consequences of their actions.  An employee handbook can also serve as a source for creating positive employee relations such as internal dispute resolution rather than through an external source such as government agency.

Guide for Supervisors/Managers: Managers and supervisors need reference materials in order to help them lead their teams. Having an understanding of policies such as PTO (how to earn it, when to use it, what happens if it isn’t used at the end of the year) is just as important as reviewing the company’s discipline policy or time management policies. A handbook is a great starting place for supervisors and managers but they should refer to specific company policies and or consult with their HR team.

CAI members have access to handbook guides to help you get started. Our Advice & Resolution team also provides complimentary handbook reviews and our HR On Demand team can work with you to create a custom handbook for your organization.

Emily’s primary area of focus is providing expert advice and support in the areas of employee relations and federal and state employment law compliance as a member of the Advice & Resolution team for CAI. Additionally, Emily advises business and HR leaders in operational and strategic human resources areas such as talent and performance management, employee engagement, and M&A’s. Emily has 10+ years of broad-based HR business partnering experience centering around employee relations, compliance & regulatory employment issues, strategic and tactical human resources, and strong process improvement skills.

How HR Can Balance Compliance and Engagement

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Whether you are an official HR professional or the person tasked with HR duties at your organization, your organization needs two primary things from you: Compliance and Engagement.  Call these terms what you want, but both are important to company health, growth, and survival.  Compliance is a straightforward term I think.  I’m using “engagement” to refer to all the things you do to attract, retain, reward, motivate, and develop employees and leaders. We should strive for a good balance.  Focusing too much on compliance creates a workplace no reasonable person would want to work at.  Total compliance isn’t achievable anyway.  Focusing too much on “engagement” without much regard to compliance could create unwelcome charges / litigation that can also damage your brand.  Whether you’re a generalist or a specialist, this balance is important.

We often see companies out of balance.  This imbalance is painful for employees, HR and Management and leads to many unwanted outcomes.  Turnover, low morale, poor communication, inability to find people, etc.  These things have many causes, but often at the root is the imbalance.  For example, many times when I talk to a company that “can’t find good people” I find their recruiting processes feel more like a compliance exercise than one aimed at attracting good people.  Only 3% of EEOC charges relate to “hiring,” yet many companies focus more on screening people out to avoid liability than screening good people in.  I had one client tell me they couldn’t change anything in their recruiting process without first getting it approved by their legal counsel.  Anything!  Again, imbalance.

How can you achieve balance?  Acknowledging your imbalance is the first step.  It may be that you’re the one out of balance, too focused on one these worlds at the expense of the other.  Or it may be you’re pretty balanced but your management team is out of balance.  I recently had an HR person tell me his management team didn’t care anything about compliance.  Either way, fixing the imbalance should be near the top of your list.

CAI can help you achieve balance.  We have the people, tools, and resources you need to balance things out.

  • Our Advice & Resolution team is authoring over a hundred practical guides on most every HR related compliance issue. You’ll find thoughtful insights from our senior Advice & Resolution advisers based on their subject matter expertise, years of experience, relationships with regulators, and daily interactions with our valued members.
  • Strategic HR services.  As a CAI Member, you have unlimited access to senior HR executives who can help you assess, plan and solve operational and strategic organizational issues. Beyond assessments and advice, they also offer a series of 1:1 virtual coaching sessions to help you implement new initiatives.  They bring expertise in areas such as: Realigning HR to better support the business; Aligning people to business goals; Succession planning; Developing robust leadership pipelines; Creating a results based and high performing workforce; Attracting, developing, and retaining top talent; and Improving organizational capability.  

A membership in CAI can help get your company balanced…find out how we can help you and your organization today!

Doug Blizzard brings a wealth of knowledge to CAI, serving as Vice President of Membership. During his first 15 years at CAI, he led the firm’s consulting and training divisions and counseled hundreds of clients on HR and Employee Relations issues. If he isn’t speaking at North Carolina conferences, teaching classes on Human Resources or consulting clients on EEO and Affirmative Action, Doug is leading the company’s membership services.

For Millennials, Lack of Loyalty May Be a Sign of Neglect

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

The prevailing wisdom is that, in general, Millennials express little loyalty to their current employers and many are planning near-term exits. During the next year, if given the choice, 25% of Millennials would quit his or her current employer to join a new organization or to do something different. That figure increases to 44 % when the time frame is expanded to two years. (Source: Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey)

This “loyalty challenge” is driven by a variety of factors, for example:

  1. Millennials feel underutilized and believe they’re not being developed as leaders.
  2. Millennials feel that most businesses have no ambition beyond profit, and there are distinct differences in what they believe the purpose of business should be and what they perceive it to currently be.
  3. Millennials often put their personal values ahead of organizational goals, and several have shunned
    assignments (and potential employers) that conflict with their beliefs.

Millennials have recently inched past the other generations to corner the largest share of the US labor market and a growing number now occupy senior positions. They are no longer leaders of tomorrow, but increasingly, leaders of today. We also recognize that Millennials are taking their values with them into the boardroom.

While many Millennials have already attained senior positions, much remains to be done. More than six in
ten Millennials (63 %) say their “leadership skills are not being fully developed.” Unfortunately, little progress is being made in this area. When asked to rate the skills and attributes on which businesses place the most value (and are prepared to pay the highest salaries), Millennials pointed to “leadership” as being the most prized.

Millennials fully appreciate that leadership skills are important to business and recognize that, in this respect, their development may be far from complete. But, based on the current results, Millennials believe businesses are not doing enough to bridge the gap to ensure a new generation of business leaders is created. Need help with workforce strategy and planning? CAI can help!

Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad-based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations. 

HR’s Role in Helping Employees with Financial Literacy

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Remember this movie from 2006? Looks like the “failure to launch” group is coming back around. According to recent data from Trulia*, nearly 40% of young adults lived with their parents, grandparents, step-parents and other relatives last year. This is the highest point in 75 years.

As Human Resource professionals, can we help reverse this trend? I believe we can, as many of us are starting to recognize the importance of financial literacy in the workplace. When employees manage their money well, everyone wins.

Financial literacy is the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being. For many young professionals, they are not receiving a financial education. According to the National Council on Economic Education, only a handful of states requires students to complete a personal finance course in school.

That’s why work is becoming a place to provide education as employees experience life events: home purchases, retirement planning, family changes, and health changes. Using the workplace as a financial education classroom is a tremendous opportunity to increase productivity, engagement, and loyalty.

A report by the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation clearly provides a business case for financial literacy programs in the workplace:

  • 30 million workers — one in four are suffering serious financial distress.
  • Nearly half of those who are financially distressed report that their health is negatively impacted by their financial worries.
  • 30% to 80% of financially distressed workers spend time at their place of employment worrying about personal finances and dealing with financial issues instead of working.

Employers have an opportunity and a responsibility to educate workers at all levels about financial literacy. The sooner an employee understands and applies the basic principles of financial literacy, the easier it is to achieve financial security.

There are several steps you can take to help employees become more financially literate. The first step is to put the right programs and systems in place. Becoming financially literate means understanding how to manage your income and expenses, handle debt responsibly, save and invest, and prepare for the unexpected. The more prepared employees are to adapt to changes in their financial lives, the more financially fit they will become.

Companies that implement financial literacy programs realize a return on their investment. While on the surface, this appears daunting to implement, employers have a strong incentive because of the strong correlation between financial stress and an employee’s productivity. Remember, most plan providers offer this service for free.

Financial literacy isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time and effort. Making sure your employees get good information is the first step.

Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad-based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.

 

How Effective is Succession Planning in your Organization?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Succession is defined as the right, act, or process, by which one person succeeds to the office or rank of another.

How is the succession of your organizations’ talent happening?  Do some of your employees have implied “rights” to specific positions? Does their “time in grade” entitle those who have “paid their dues” to simply move into a vacated senior position regardless whether or not they are the most qualified or possess the most potential?

Does your organization use the “replacement” method of succession whereby a successor is simply chosen from a ‘short list” of employees that a select group of managers have compiled behind closed doors?

Or does your HR organization provide a collaborative process that brings leaders together to discuss designated positions and relevant potential talent as possible candidates? This of course, is the most effective and desired state.

If your succession process is not of the “desired state” mentioned above, then you are missing out on an incredible opportunity to enable your
business as well as potentially putting your business at risk by not filling opportunities with the top talent within your organization.

How do you get started?  Here are the first 3 steps:

  • As an HR business partner, you first need to be sure you completely understand your business and its current / future strategy and goals.
  • You then need to understand your organization’s key positions that drive and impact your business.  This includes not only key leadership roles but also positions with specialized skills that are challenging to find and or develop.
  • Next, and most importantly, you need to get buy-in from your GM/CEO, key leaders, etc. in the development and implementation of a succession process for your business. Although HR should own this process, succession is not a standalone HR “project” and needs to be done collaboratively and with the support, understanding, and buy-in of senior leaders and other key stakeholders.

Many small and medium-sized businesses fall into the trap of not implementing a succession plan, just like many people put off creating a will. While there are many other key considerations and variables that go into a developing a succession plan, don’t look at the process as insurmountable. CAI can help bring order to the process and partner with you along the way.

Rick Washburn leads the Advice & Resolution team at CAI. In his role, he advises executives and HR professionals on strategic and organizational issues, tackling subjects ranging from employee engagement to talent management. With his 25 years experience in HR management, Rick is uniquely poised to advice and lead businesses to successful HR strategies.

Two Basic Things Employees Need From Their Boss

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

1. RELIABLE AND MEANINGFUL COMMUNICATION communication1

Communication is a hallmark of any healthy relationship. A recent study from Gallup, ‘State of the American Manager,’ found that consistent communication is strongly connected to higher engagement.  Employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings with them.

The frequency of meetings is less important to employees than the fact that they happen at all. The Gallup study also found that engagement is highest among employees who have some form (face-to-face, phone or electronic) of daily communication with their manager. And while all forms of communication are effective, managers who use a combination of face-to-face, phone and electronic communication are the most successful at engaging employees.

Employees value communication from their manager not just about their role and responsibilities, but also about what happens in their life outside of work. The Gallup study revealed that employees who feel as though their manager is invested in them as people are more likely to be engaged.

Approachability is a key attribute of a good manager. Employees who feel that they can talk with their manager about non-work-related issues are much more likely to be engaged.

2. PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT BEYOND ANNUAL REVIEWS

Performance management is often a source of great frustration for employees and managers alike. Employees often do not clearly understand their goals or what is expected of them at work. They feel uncertainty about their duties and disconnected from the bigger picture. For these employees, annual reviews and developmental conversations frequently feel forced and superficial.  It is difficult for them to think about next year’s goals when they are not even sure what tomorrow will throw at them.

Yet, when performance management is done well, employees become more productive, profitable and creative contributors. The same Gallup study found that employees whose managers excel at performance management activities are more engaged than employees whose managers struggle with these same tasks. Finally, when managers help their employees set work priorities and performance goals they are much more likely to be engaged.

Not sure where to start with performance management or have a specific question? Contact our Advice & Resolution team today!

Tom_Sheehan-circle

 

Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.